RE/MAX 440
Dale Joy
dalejoy1@verizon.net
Dale Joy
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880
Skippack  PA 19474
PH: 610-584-1160
O: 610-584-1160
C: 215-460-5153
F: 267-354-6852 
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Does Credit Matter for Retirees?

March 15, 2016 4:27 am

The answer, says Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of credit reporting agency TransUnion, is a resounding yes.

“Despite the misperception that credit loses importance later in life, the fact remains that your credit score is a vital financial tool at every age,” says Chaplin. “Baby boomers need to prepare their credit score for retirement so they have the tools to fund financial obligations later in life.”

Nearly half of baby boomers incorrectly believe their credit score matters less after age 70, and many have a mixed understanding of the relationship between credit scores and financial obligations, according to a recent survey by the agency.

Seventy percent of boomers cited in the survey agree that a healthy credit score is required for refinancing a mortgage, but less (61 percent) recognized the importance of a healthy credit score when co-signing on loans, and even less (32 percent) said they believed a strong credit score may be necessary to enter a nursing home or long-term care facility.

“As Americans age, good credit can not only help them finance medical expenses and long-term care, but also help them support children, grandchildren and other family members as they take on middle-life expenses, like buying a house or paying for school,” Chaplin explains.

There are several actions pre-retirees can take to establish and maintain good credit throughout retirement, says Chaplin. One of the most important is to stay credit-active by using credit cards regularly and paying them off in full each month.

“Most retirees are past the point of making major purchases such as a new house or car,” Chaplin says, “but that doesn’t mean you should stop using your credit cards.”

Bear in mind unused cards may be closed due to inactivity, Chaplin adds. A credit card closure will impact your available credit ratio and have a negative impact on your score.

Source: TransUnion®

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Leak Detectives: 3 Tips to Save Water at Home

March 15, 2016 4:27 am

 Did you know more than one trillion gallons of water are wasted each year by easy-to-fix household leaks?

“Not only do leaks waste precious water, they could be adding 10 percent to your utility bill,” says Shawn M. Garvin, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “By taking just minutes to detect leaks at home, the average family could save more than 10,000 gallons of water every year.”

To locate leaks in your home, simply, check, twist and replace:

Check for silent toilet leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank at the back of the toilet. Wait 10 minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak.

Twist faucet, shower and pipe connections tightly to avoid leaks, or screw on a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator.

Replace broken or leaky fixtures with WaterSense-labeled models, which are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well (or better) than standard models.

To learn more about conserving water in your home, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak.

Source: EPA

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Is It Better to Own Near Target or Walmart?

March 15, 2016 4:27 am

Research has shown that homes situated near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods see significant increases in value. Can big-box retailers have a similar effect?

According to an analysis by housing data leader RealtyTrac®, homes near a Target store see higher home value and appreciation than those near Walmart—but homeowners near Target pay higher property taxes.

Of homeowners who sold last year, those near a Target saw an average 27 percent increase in price since they purchased their home (an average price gain of $65,569); those near a Walmart saw an average 16 percent appreciation (an average price gain of $24,900). Homeowners who own near a Target pay an average of $7,001 in property taxes, which is 123 percent more than the $3,146 average paid by homeowners who own near a Walmart.

Homes near a Target also have a higher value: $307,286, on average. This is 72 percent higher than the $178,249 average value for homes near a Walmart.

Comparatively, the average price appreciation nationwide is 22 percent (an average price gain of $40,626), the average property tax nationwide is $4,283, and the average home value nationwide is $215,921.

Source: RealtyTrac®

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7 Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets

March 14, 2016 4:27 am

Cold weather can be hard on everyone—including your pets. When it’s chilly outside, it’s important to consider their safety. Remember: if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them!

“Our pets are members of our family, and the fact that they can’t tell us what they are feeling can make them the most vulnerable members when cold weather hits,” says Deborah C. Mandell, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and veterinarian at Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “There are some simple steps any pet owner can take to make sure pets stay safe.”

These steps, Mandell says, include bringing your pets indoors and ensuring they have access to food and drinking water. If your pet cannot come indoors, protect them in a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough for them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in their body heat. Raise the floor of the shelter a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Bear in mind, adds Mandell, that salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them. Be sure, also, to wipe up antifreeze spills immediately and store it out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion.

Source: American Red Cross

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Homeowners: Make This the Year for Eliminating Fertilizers

March 14, 2016 4:27 am

We often discuss holistic ways to improve your health, household and environment. With warm weather approaching, it's time to consider eliminating chemical fertilizers.

According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), most commercial fertilizers boost plant growth rapidly. But too commonly, these high potency fertilizers are overused, ending up as phosphorus and nitrate in groundwater and small streams.

In New England and along Long Island Sound, we've seen the poisoning of aquatic life and severe oxygen deficiencies result from these chemicals reaching local and regional water sources.

So, what you can do? The NWF says:

• You can reduce fertilizer potency and application rates and still improve plant health. "Natural" fertilizers, such as composts and pasteurized manures, are preferable, as they release a much greater variety of nutrients more slowly.

• If commercial fertilizers are used, choose a slow-releasing fertilizer.

• Make and use compost in the landscape and save landfill space.

• Plant cover crops, like buckwheat and clovers. These plants add or "pump up" nutrients to the root zone and physically improve the soil.

• Try composted sludge, which is derived from sewage or industrial processes.

• Grow native plants. Many native plants will grow very well with only an annual application of leaf mulch or with an annual cultural practice, such as mowing or burning.

What if your basement, garage or shed is stocked with fertilizers or other gardening chemicals?

The Integrated Pest management experts at the University of California, Davis have a few tips on disposing of pesticides and fertilizers:

• If you can’t use up your pesticides, fertilizers and weed killers, consider giving them away.

• Sewage treatment plants aren’t designed to remove all toxic chemicals from wastewater. Pouring garden chemicals into a storm drain, down the sink or in the toilet is never an option—and it is against the law!

• The only allowable way to dispose of pesticides is to use them up according to label directions or to take them to a household hazardous waste site.

To find Household Hazardous Waste Disposal sites nearest you, visit www.earth911.com, enter your zip code and what you need to recycle, and the interactive map will get you there.

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Spring Cleaning: A Room by Room Checklist

March 14, 2016 4:27 am

For many homeowners, spring cleaning is a much-needed, yet overwhelming task. In fact, some even avoid it altogether!

The truth is, spring cleaning is best approached by breaking down the task room by room, says Merry Maids home cleaning expert Debra Johnson.

“The most common cleaning challenge homeowners face is figuring out where to start," says Johnson. “Having a set cleaning plan and breaking it up room by room makes tasks more manageable, and may even help you clean areas you often ignore.”

Johnson’s plan includes:
 
Kitchen

• Deodorize the garbage disposal with a half cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar mixed with hot water.
• Degrease the microwave by heating up half a lemon in hot water for 10 minutes, then wiping grime away.
• Empty the refrigerator and wash shelves with warm, soapy water.
• Use dishwashing liquid and warm water to clean cabinet fronts, and degrease appliances with an all-purpose cleaner.

Bathroom

• Steam-clean the floor to restore the true color of the tiles.
• Use a non-abrasive cleaning detergent to scrub the inside of the tub, toilet and sink.
• Wipe inside of cabinets, clean the mirror and toss old cosmetics and expired medicines.

Bedroom

• Dust behind headboards.
• Sort closets and create a "keep" and "donate" pile for your clothes.
• Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and vacuum slowly.
• Wash bedspreads, mattress covers and duvets. Flip your mattress before making the bed with clean linens.

Living Room

• Launder or dry clean curtains, then dust windows, window sills, coffee tables and shelves.
• Remove all accessories from tables and shelves, thoroughly dusting with a microfiber cloth as you go.
• Wash or dry-clean pillows and steam-clean any remaining upholstery and carpeting.

Tackle each room separately using this checklist, says Johnson. Your spring cleaning chores will be finished in no time!

Source: Merry Maids

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3 Money-Smart Tips for Millennials

March 11, 2016 4:24 am

From witnessing the plight of their parents to navigating a barren employment landscape, most millennials experienced the effects of the economic downturn in one form or another. As a result, they’re cognizant of the importance of monetary well-being, yet unsure how to best manage their finances.

In reality, there are many routes to take on the path to a secure financial future. The specialists at Northwestern Mutual recommend starting with the following money-wise tasks:

1. Set goals. Currently, just over half of millennials have set financial goals. If you haven’t yet defined your goals, take time to create money milestones that align with your future plans. Ask yourself where you want to be at this time next year. If you’ve already set goals, now is a good time to review your plan, assess how you're doing and make updates if needed.

2. Review your 401(k). Approximately three-quarters of millennials expect to work past age 65 because Social Security won't take care of their needs. This finding stresses the importance of a strong 401(k). Are you contributing to your employer's plan? Can you afford to contribute more? Spending even a few minutes analyzing your retirement savings can pay off big down the road.

3. Meet with a financial professional. About one in three millennials say a lack of planning is their greatest obstacle to achieving financial security. The best way to make sure you're making the most of your money is to create a plan with a financial professional.

Says Emily Holbrook, young personal market director for Northwestern Mutual: "Regardless of where millennials are on their financial journeys, completing even one small task today can have a big impact on their financial futures.”

Source: Northwestern Mutual

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The Top 10 Downtowns of 2016

March 11, 2016 4:24 am

Things will be great when you’re downtown!

Livability.com recently released its ranking of the top 10 best downtowns across America, underscoring resurgence in downtowns in mid- and small-size towns. The downtowns included in the ranking offer expanded housing options, diversity and around-the-clock entertainment.

“Having a great downtown is about more than just great stores and great restaurants,” says Matt Carmichael, editor of Livability.com.  “A great downtown needs people. Great cities need great spaces to gather. These cities and towns are wonderful places to get out and engage with your friends, family and other residents.”

The ranking is as follows:

1. Alexandria, Va.
2. Santa Monica, Calif.
3. Greenville, S.C.
4. Bellevue, Wash.
5. Pittsburgh, Pa.
6. Boise, Idaho
7. Tempe, Ariz.
8. Plano, Texas
9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
10. Evanston, Ill.

To determine the ranking, Livability.com evaluated data from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the mapping platform Esri, to pinpoint areas experiencing an influx in population, new development and low vacancy rates. Livability.com also factored in Walk Score and affordability, among other indicators, and included a population parameter to identify downtowns that extend beyond Main Street.

Source: Livability.com

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Mortgage Rates Favorable for Spring Homebuyers

March 11, 2016 4:24 am

Buyers in the market for a home this spring can expect lower mortgage rates across the board.

According to the Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) stands at 3.68 percent, and the 15-year FRM stands at 2.96 percent.

“The 10-year Treasury yield ended the survey week exactly where it started; however the solid February employment report boosted the yield noticeably on Friday and Monday,” explains Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Our mortgage rate survey captured the impact of this temporary increase in yield, and the 30-year mortgage rate rose 4 basis points to 3.68 percent. This marks the second increase this year. Nonetheless, the mortgage rate remains 33 basis points lower than its end-of-2015 level.”

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) stands at 2.92 percent, according to the survey.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Consumer Protection Week: IRS Scam Warning

March 10, 2016 4:21 am

Around this time every year, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) National Consumer Financial Protection Week (consumerfinance.gov/ncpw) promotes heightened awareness of consumer rights.

According to the IRS—one of the agencies observing the week this year—one of the most recent and widespread issues affecting consumers are phishing and malware incidents. The IRS has seen an approximate 400 percent surge in these cases so far this tax season.

Consumers affected by this issue reported receiving emails designed to trick them into thinking they are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies.  The phishing scheme asked them about a wide range of topics, including requesting information related to refunds and filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

Variations of these scams have also been reported via text messages. When people click on these email links, they are taken to sites designed to imitate an official-looking website, such as IRS.gov. The sites ask for Social Security numbers and other personal information. The sites also may carry malware, which can infect computers and allow criminals to access your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.

The IRS urges people not to click on these links. Instead, send the email to phishing@irs.gov.

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